tv 2015 American Book Awards CSPAN December 17, 2016 11:00pm-1:31am EST
monowho weighs in on race and equality in the american health care system. in we should all be feminist, [inaudible] argues that everyone should be fighting for gender equality. brandeis university john burt six debates between abe hail lincoln and steen douglas during their 1858 u.s. senate seat race, in lincoln's tragic pragmatism and barrel reveals difficult did i she faced as year pilot first woman to fly solo against atlantic water in west with the night. that's some of the staff picks in cambridge, massachusetts. many of these authors have parred on booktv. watch them on our website booktv dog.
>> good afternoon. and welcome to the 37th annual american book awards presented by the before columbus foundation. [applause] my name is justin i'm the chair of the before columbus foundation. where about it was about eight years ago, i succeeded in that position our founder ishmael reed who we're prpght to have with us during the program today. needless to say there were some
very, very big shoes to fill. orveg toipght thank our friends here at the san francisco jazz center who have been so generous in their support of the american book awards for the last several years also our friends at c-span who continue to support historical mission and hern book awards. i'll say a few things about our direction that we've been embarked on recently. over the past several years, we have expanded our ramming. to include a number of partnerships here in the bay area and nationally. including those with the san francisco public library who on
very honored to say one of their representatives stewart shaw who has been so instrumental in facilitating collaboration between then an san francisco public library has been about -- just this year we presented ann waled man winner of the lifetime achievement award from the previous year looping with will expander winner of the american book award in 2014. we continue those programs at the san francisco public library in collaboration with african-american center this summer. but program focusing on black hollywood unchained . collection of fill criticism not only focusing on the work of taryn toe know but the relationship hollywood and television entry and commercial rule and black american history and writing and culture.
that included marvin x., myself, as well as holly samari and jesse all taylor. our continuing collaboration with okay land book festival include panel one of the premier panel of the festival on multiracial american literature in the 21st century that included john cain we have the pleasure of honoring this afternoon present with us todays. also aval certainly one of the great writers in america had today. and emily also before columbus a panel on legacy of mall con x also winner of the american book award. as well as myself it has been a very productive and fertile relationship that we continue with the oakland book festival and look forward to expanding
those programs into year rounds programs. also, veteran excited to share with you that we're bringing on two new members to the board of directors this year. the novelist marlin james and layla -- [applause] we'll begin the ceremonies this afternoon with the book, trace whom we have the pleasure to talk about trace, memory, history, race, and the american landscape. she'll tell you more about this extraordinary work but i would like to emphasize that too often
certainly way that we articulate our individual identity is -- is restricted to a temporal understanding of history and we're all very sensitive to not just what i'm saying in the meaning of these words but also the time and the place in which we exist in what might be described as deep time as to say formation of the earth itself, this also plays a role in our understanding of ourselves and relate to one another and our concepts about -- what is possible to communicate and where it is not. this book traced really perhaps more than any other contemporary work brings those elements into play and so it is great pleasure to introduce to you author of
trace, winner of the american book award for 2016. [applause] >> thank you. i never imagined this, to be in the company of writers of such power is a great gift. and to be chosen and celebrated by the founders and the members of the board of the before columbus foundation is a great gift. thank you. i come from a family that was silent and silenced. it wasn't until after my father's death that i learned
that he was a writer, and that his novel on racial hatred and passing titled alien land, had been published to some fanfare by e.p. decades earlier. he canceled his the would be second novel concerned a story about a young negro fighting segregation in the initial's capitol, my father's home, and explores the possibilities of communism. my father found himself blacklisted. this was the 150s. many years later when i came along, the man i knew was
bitter, angry, he didn't write. and sometimes he did not speak. silence was easy to learn. i've long wondered how much the deep unspoken hunger of a parent could touch a child and even mark the path for her to follow. trace began in my struggle to reach beyond silence to either answer or come to materials with questions at long haunted me. questions like these. if each of our lives is an instant, like a camera shutter opening and closing what can we making for that place in our
world for that instangt we have, and then over time, over generations, what do accumulated instance mean in the group became a mosaic of personal journey and historical inquiry across the continent and time exploring how this country still unfolding history marked the person, marks the people if well was the land itself. from twist to terrain to south carolina plantation, from an island in lake superior to indian and tour town in oklahoma and national park an burial grounds to where americans live, the origin of the name, and then from the u.s.-mexico border to
the u.s. capitol and the origins of both. in all of these trace tries to grapple with the sering national hrs. to reveal some of that unvoiced past to present. so what i'd like to do now is maybe read a page and a half from the book. and early reflection that came on a journey that brought me back to california to a place called the devil's punch bowl and a journey that led to this book. from what do we take our origin? from blood opinion i am the child of a woman with deep brown skin and dark eyes. who married a fair skinned man
with blue gray eyes. yet as a little girl in california, i never knew grace. skin and high color, hair color an texture, body height and shape, very grittily among relatives. like the land, we prepared in many forms. that some differences held significant with far beyond me. instead i devise the theory that gold and light and deep blue sky make me, sun filled my body like it seemed to fill dry california hills and sky road in my vains. to a five-year-old, colored would only mean these things. on that drive east from punch bowl i realized how little nigh u of any family as an orr can
egg unit helding the by shared blood, experience, or story. i was born to parents already well into middle age. they had come into the world before moving pictures talked. before the ice man had to find a new profession and they had lived with elders who could recall life before the the self war. they have memories lit by lantern light. from nearly palpable their paths never spoke to me. dad died long before i had the questions and in response to them, momma said she couldn't remember. and she wondered why i wanted to know. so from what do we take our origin finance from in sized memories?
one memory, home. many a workweek night. my father sits in his easy chair alone in the back room, a grass glass of gin or scotch in one hand. the skiing gar or cigarette in the other. only light is the inhaling or born what he sees i don't know. what i remember, smoke. silence. well another memory, a lesson in fifth grade social study washington, d.c. our textbook describes unsuitable of wind e-indians who wasted away and presence for africans who thrived by them and by nature throfd serve. i asked my teacher if and when i
might become a slave. imagine searching for self-meaning in such lessons. well, will i be a slave? as history taught wasn't the history that made the me. but i didn't nose this. any language to voice who i am or knowledge of how life and time touched my family remained elusive. once we moved to away d.c., in the late 1960s i came to learn how race cuts our lives. black -- negro, nigger came loud and hard after the 1968 riots. words filled of spit showed that i could be hated for being colored. and by the age of 8, about i
wondered if i should hate in return. the book goes on and many journeys to explore the history. and to reveal so many of the damaging public silences that often go unknowsed such as the link between the siding of the nation's capitolling and the economic motive of slavery and what is important to remember is that none of these links is coincidental to feel them appear in public history yet they all touched us. i want to give my heart felt thanks to my family and friends who kept me from throwing away my words yet again. and i give my thanks to my
father and to those who struggled to negotiate the indetermined terrain of heritage towards understanding and survival. i give thanks to my editor jack is schumaker and counterpress for taking a chance with me. of course i give thanks to american land and to many travel people for which this is homeland. and my deep, deep gratitude goes to the before columbus foundation. you have honored my struggle, and you have helped me realize that finally i am learning how to speak. [applause]
>> that was beautiful. thank you. this next writer is a poet and a public school teacher if only public school teachers would be so brilliant and truthful we would all be in good hands. she's a lifetime resident of the pacific northwest da is enrolled member laura da is enrolled member of the eastern shaunny tribe of oklahoma she lives seattle with her husband and son. of her work are national photoof the united states juan -- says tributary of raven have conjure home lanked to conjured home land of name words of
removal history of bloodstream and birds and now generations through anthropologist gay, textbook disconnection and beings of deep rivers and night face galaxies. and da's happedz painting reimagining. sash is a sheaing the bore between each line. breath and duty, the truth pollen dust still mooing. moving -- about with her blessing presence with knowledge, and dream and vision insight in full are all human systems in harmony. this book abun dangt with body call it a people's generations. long time and now a deep strong voice luminous.
the book is tributaries. survey shani history along side personal identity and memory with the eye of a story teller day creates ark that flows from the personal to the universal and back again. in her first book length collection da employees into woven narrative and perpghtive perspective and leaves rich image to create a shifting vision of the past and present. it's my honor to present laura with the american book award. [applause]
the work is -- [inaudible] thank you. good afternoon. how to tell -- i'm so honored by this company all by this award i'm a little bit overwhelm by how beautiful the words have been and it is just beginning. so of course my deep gratitude to the before columbus foundation, i, you know, have is thought about all of my most loved and deerest book on my book shelves to many of them, award winners from this particularward so it's an amazing feeling to join it shall [inaudible] so thank you. an thanks, of course, to the board and to all of my fellow
writers here it is really an honor. i worked on this book for about 15 years so this is a very sweet punctuation mark -- basically my entire adult life. i want to tick a particular moment it thank my family. my husband is here today. and he's actually the artist who created the cover so i look the book that is family affair. and i also want to just give thanks to my the tribal community shani tribe as more importantly as a human, you know as a daughter, child, mother, a sister. so thanks to my tribe certainly. also thanks to the professors that the institute of american indian art first people who have
encouraged me to write also people who ever put a book in any hands written by a native art if i haven't been educated try believing. i'm not sure what would happened to me but i knew i wanted to be a writer and i want to give thanks to my stowngt. identify been teaching middle school for last 13 years and i find they are deeply inspooring to me, and they're very -- excited about this this award as well. so i for many of us as writers, there's a -- a creative obsession or spark that kind of propels you forward because sometime running can be a bit of aluminating endeavor and i thought i'd share just a small story of what i believe has driven me as a writer. sos a teenager, you hear the first thing i do the very first
manager that i meet my students who are middle the skewest 11 to 13. they greet me in their home language and then talk about how many languages we have and vast engine that we're bringing into the classroom. i'll say how did he do which was informal to say hello to shani and ask them to gses what language did i say hi to you in? and i want to note i have great rpght for my students incredibly intelligent and citizens of the world, however, i'll let them guess for ten minutes. not wonings -- does it come to north american continent not once when i guess you see this awakening that they may be maybe didn't think of
having land on it or language or culture, and so that share has haunted me for a long time and i think e-i feel like that propels some of my creative obsession as a writer particularly the history of the shani people. so my dad was actually born here in california. he was born in wpa liver camp. my grandparents were migrants from overwhelm from the shani reservation. they were i try tolings escape difficulty of the dust bowl and i'm so gladeful to them because it is easy to lose who you are and lose your indigenous that ties you to --
you your family is living in poverty your generations and generations so my deep gratitude to them for the sacrifices theyed made as well. i'd like to -- read something i think speaks to that concept america land oask as was so eloquently mentioned we're on native indigenous land right now so i'll read a poem from this collection. that looks closely at the shani land and how it has changed from generation to generation. so this poem is called american town. seneca, missouri seeps through
cracked window. the map flutters on the dashboard one corner grits soaked. sparse oh disark wash of to inny green. i heard of buffalo loring in the sad patture. here is the voyage conjured homeland to conjured homeland. no, not that trajectory of the past -- but it scrapes just the same. the drive to ohio will take 11 hours and 48 minutes. cost $195 in gas. in the systemic and name and principle city all human systems lives in harmony.
of corn tassel along the byway historic marketers plunge an arm into the they foal how second, about no rock to bend the plow share. what heirloom field of shiny corn hum under the crest, beside carbon of burned counsel house. august we of bad act creek jarred throughout boulders jetting up waste high and drag corn. what is owed grit this corner of the mouth, the plaque on the museum's door in zinnia has revolutionary rei war hero the ground on which this con sewel hands stains is unwith so much as pets and brotherly love. some are school kids around the
museum, the teacher introduces the panel of tribal counsel members as remnant of the once great shawnny tribe. of pencils across paper. in the front room a volunteer curator leans over a story of a revolutionary war red steeple red pant on to sandy ground simulating the american flogging points with the paint brush to next room. where 50 street levels from 1783 broke her captive trade with the delaware in shani. of the from blagged or or to the sway of longhand gun. each one made the promise of whiskey.
leaving zinnia that evening on an old shaunny trade route retrace and concrete. the town -- blue jackets town, woptomica influence of the pollen upon the forrem of the fruit. imght my ink to bellow. where is this ground? i'm staying with blood. thank you very much. [applause] [silence] jesus is award-winning filmmaker known for his pioneering
documentary ares and features fills about the experience. he's the author of the fabulous sinkhole and other stories the sky scraper that flew at a critically anamed memoir eyewitness the filmmaker memoir of the chicago business. of this work and his book return toe royal grandi -- it is private in his prier life jesus made movies and directed television drama. in this work most scenes had to be shot two or three times base theory that repeating seen might lead actors to return in time from the previous scene a time of going and running and coming back from a future they have just created. elle yoat nailed image in a line in a room the common and the goal. did all of those years behind
the camera tribune to write speck willtive fiction and all stories speck la story. thought about going and coming of the dreams like we the old people already knew that memory registers time space. well we've been there, and here -- time shifting in alternate dimensions appear or disper in to the book but fabulous sinkhole and ska scraper that flew and interesting segue to earlier stories focus on the word return in the title. of course, the characters can -- can return because they have already been there. here and there, a time, space -- but don't let my wild speculations keep you from reading this most interesting book. the stories that grounded in reality although a reality that
shifts depending on what page you're on. plot goes look this. new characters are young men and women who had left a royal began day to pursue careers but now return hometown from greedy developers to videos plot in just the same time, space, and parallel universe in which characters life. who movers writers hand, god, free will, imagine theation, soul -- or gravitational wifes arrived in earth when two black holes exploded in disapt distant galaxy two billion years ago and reveal at his desk challenging conception of fiction or a collection of stories just a continue womb to surprise and fulfill or senses of hablty jesus --
[applause] laura, you forgot -- [inaudible] [laughter] >> thank you. glasses on -- trying them out. thank you justin and, of course, the before columbus foundation and its members for the vision to see what was needed an the follow through so claim what is truly ours. to make events like today a reality. it's indeed an honor to be with a distinguished group of writer and activist and story tellers,
and isn't that afterall what we all are. story tellers? i began my story telling career in 1968 as a student activist on a ticket line in east los angeles brandishing supereight camera. it was the hay day of the e mernlgt civil rights movement and i didn't know ide make a lifetime of it, but i did i learned how to use television to tell our stories and these were stories that as you might imagine mainstream society didn't really want to hear. stories of our presentation. stories of our struggle. stories of overcoming and story of victory in face of defeat i was a documentary filmmaker and then i shifted. i became a narrative story
tellinger directing episodes of prime time television show like and others -- all during had time i was writing. iftion a writer. i was a story teller. throughout, i struggled to find a balance. a balance between documenting and telling the dark side of our troubled past. and we all know it sadly too well. the discrimination of the rape of the leechings of the murders of the genocide that have been committed against people of color. but i also wrestled to find near the back drop of these horrible events for to relegate our storying telling only to
atrocity ignore the past but also filled with steadfast resistance with fierce struggles. with repress cial victories but perhaps most devaluate change to me has been to fox i do the immediate. it is easy to pox our story telling on the political say, when the times demand it. it is harder to find a quiet time to write especially when we know that sisters is the for example, and many others today taking a stand or we confront sorted reality of what a potential trump variation might be. harder to find the moment to reflect, to ponder, to muse, but
it is only whom we do this this woman we transcend our anger allow our creativity to simmer to distill. to nurture deeper insight into who we are. our craft as story tellers are truly cool to the floor. i live in a world of alternate realities some of my doing and some that happen to happen. in my latest shore return to our grandi i have a character falling at a construction site and the way to define indisputable memory of living in ominous terrible world a world where there's only suffer and a friends and kneel and despair is the order of the day. she's so convinced this path
with what doctors are calling also memories that she can't accept the possibility that another more positive of the world might exist. due to reflection that happened when she fell that is what's going on they're false memories but what if you saw memory took place she questioned. aren't i cheating, i mean, aren't i the vapidity having things actually happened. doctorate replies, sandy the point is must not allow the bad memory of a terrible past to cripple you. and your future -- as simple as that. so a as story tellers let's not allow ourselves to be paralyzed let's go forward. let's break barrier and tell
stories of purpose stories of resilience, stories of hope. and i'm for one not afraid to use that word. hope. thank you very much for the honor, your time, and your word. [inaudible] not too long ago i received a article from the baltimore sun and they wanted to ask me about the american book award they wanted to ask me about -- a curious land suzanne's collection of short stories.
and the journalist on the other side of the country said why. why the american book award why this honor? and i said well -- suzanne hasn't and the easy way out so what do you mean by that? well part of what i mean by that is that the empathy that she chiefed was her character in story that she tells -- offers them in the complexity of their own contradictions without judging them or encouraging leader to amend as explanation for their own moral or ethical or unethical actions. this is a real mother kl in literature and something that
even great writers are unable to do present their characters in full complexity, and still hold them close as human beings. particularly, when dealing with the groups that constitute an oppressed class where we're always already encouraged particularly by the commercial and market driven media to employ cashes to allow that oppression to continue. and be talking more about that as we progress to awards this afternoon. but but that was my answer and that's only a frag m of this story, and we are very honored that suzanne is with us this afternoon to share more of her inso i thought and discovery rei about this very unique book
winning american book award for 2016. [applause] [silence] thank you. >> i'm still so moved by the voice and awards and really powerful words. thank you so much to the before columbus foundation for this honor. this book took me eight years to write. not 15 years. eight years not as long. but -- [laughter] and writing is such a solitary act and i feel so grateful that my amendment to celebrate voices of palestinian and palestinian americans is being recognized with this award. palestinian american literature
is growing at the jean are and i'm very happy about that. broking up i had a hard time discussing my palestinian hair age mostly because people, you know, easily equated palestine with terrible things like terrorism. you can see it on their voices they say palestine, trch, you know. you could see progression will, that was it. i had a college profess told me once there wasn't a such thing as palestinian people but they conveniently invented it in 1938 and my answer is many years later. i was 19 then. i know better now. of course as a child i couldn't explain where my parents were from you still can't find it on a map.
but i didn't is a place i could point to and say that's palestine that's where my parents came from right there and that hurt in many ways as if it were really something that was made the up. being a palestinian christian is also challenging and still is. we get painted with the same terrorism, shah rei law. ignorance is astounding to me, there's a weird disconnect from history on the part of western christian peemg people who want to stereotype christians, this ancient community people who come from places like nazareth -- bethlehem -- they don't understand our community but they're ready to stereotype us. i had a woman ask me once if i was muslim and i said i was palestinian no -- actually my family is christian. and she look surprised and said did they convert?
and i said no. you did. [laughter] and said elections are away and breathing in toxic air of this climate. we're seeing more than ever that the denigration of arab and muslims is efficient for muslim and media penalty to get noticed an get a boost in the polls so they do it. it improves their ratings so they do it. of course, for some candidates the denigration of our people is their entire platform. ...
>> been. >> my source of joy and hope and to my eye has been to supported my riding over the last 16 years before i ever published a single word before ever winning anything in the foundation once again and the congratulations again to my fellow award winners it is my honor to be here with all of you. [applause] >> as citizen were is
pointing out some of the most back words and chemical elements of politics are poisoning the atmosphere with of toxic rhetoric that is creating an environment in which extraordinary levels of violence are becoming commonplace. indeed they are nazi as they trace their lineage. just this year alone over 820 american citizens shot down by police, an average of three per day. since trump announced his candidacy hate crimes against the islamic faith or perceived to become a have risen over 60 percent.
these are the ones that are reported. this is par to of what is happening but that to you is just part of a wave processing the west. steering many of the country's white grease and france and poland. so in framing that, and i want to emphasize the extraordinary courage in the works harry had a honor of being with us today and to share more of the substance. we choosing america they shape and the most time crucial pitcher.
>> ahab the great to and indeed it was one of the most vivacious and in civil and eliminating conversations that i have had in a year's. i will be grateful of the come rescission of links to and he used action and that was an answer paul to holman said winter which led to suffering in polls and polls so and to bring her the book
award. [applause] >> good afternoon. end i ms of deeply appreciative introducing this to the writers to reflect on the nazi experiments known as america and on a personal level i am so grateful to the board of directors for this recognition is it is an honor to be among the cadres of writers. because of the beloved community bike came to this
book from the perspective of a movement activist organizers and community members that i have learned with the most from throughout my work prior unfortunate to have my comrades here to support me this afternoon. [applause] in particular to acknowledgement three women who are here. they have incurred a and influence the community building in the years since then 11 in your a big part of the book and if you cannot be here today i sent my gratitude to my colleagues and to a chance on me in my editors to shepherd the move plan activist to become a writer and to my family especially
my sexual son who helped give my most important book talk to his first grade classroom and my activist community who inspired me to show up every single day this award exist because of all of you. paquette to returning to a memory related to the first time i got an award for a book in seventh grade we had just when emigrated to the united states just before to kentucky. i taped a purple cover ironically not only entitled belonging adult remember about the of plot but i know would had something to do with my own experiences of feeling like a constant outsider at my elementary school with my immigrant
status i stood out in contrast. the immigrant experience as many bad expressed can be of pain and separation and loss of self through community. in many ways this book also reflects the immigrant struggle with the time of tremendous strife in the nation to document the experiences of immigrants who are surviving post 9/11 america. a period rife with his llama phobia and xenophobia and racial anxiety. in order to sharpen our understanding of the domestic or on terror and nichol direction with the
salvation communities for of all racial identities during bi work with post 9/11 america and this book by the voices and actions of courageous people from the "frontline" are called into action. like one who lost his mother in a hate massacre in wisconsin. or a muslim kurdish refugee pdf who endured the daily barrage of rhetoric in a place she was longing to make her new home. or undocumented immigrants like when the home was raided by immigration authorities and his father was deported. one egyptian american in st. louis on the ground in ferguson and co-founded muslims for ferguson.
when i wrote this book and was published last year in november i was hoping and some level it would be a historic text or a documentation unfortunately that backlash of our communities is only increased and exacerbated by the current political cycle. reports of violence and profiling have reached unprecedented levels the likes we have not seen since then 11. because venice summer of thing bush millions of people like a woman killed in queens. four rap pakistan the american first grader who stepped off his school bus with bruises. or an american not far from here driving home while assaults it's your car window.
these are our stories coming in a big stories of people who try to shape the american landscape the while on the front lines of pain and so many others continue to find their voice and challenge systematic injustice. bridge builders and called into action from a mosque in tennessee in the streets of baltimore with sacred ground at standing rock people of all backgrounds and faiths and history and status call upon all of us to join the movements for liberation from oppression for freedom and equity and justice. books can play a role to support these movements by importing lessons with policy and institutional
changes to inspire a whole new generation i am glad that we play a role in social change movements especially in this moment with a fierce urgency of now. above book is a springboard for messy conversations at the family dinner table for more equitable spaces in our country. i and deeply grateful to recognize and knowledge the experiences of the immigrants of post and 11 america and thank all of you for being on a journey for social change together. [applause]
>> before welcoming our founder to the stage come my want to say a few words about knick who received the american book awards this year for tomorrows battlefield u.s. property wars in africa. he is unable to be here today. he is hard at work. we regard his efforts as a journalist to be heroic and to put that into context in the waning months of the of bush/cheney american in politics, a danish of policy
papers from the think tanks began to flood with recommendations that the emerging war on terror would be on the continent of africa so with that in mind the united states government formed after com on the continent of africa and as the ceding to the presidency the united states military has expanded across the entire continent with the largest military presence in our nation's history. but this story has almost gone completely unreported. you can search through the database of the papers of record and will find barely a peep of anything having to
do with the of military operations in africa. but to be clear it is the largest military presence we have going for contract recently the so called more on isis that department of defense calls inherent resolve, the factory's central $.9 million per day fighting just that campaign. the deity's says we spend $174 million per day in afghanistan. that is the above-ground number that has nothing to do with the secret operations that only sign: negative dianne feinstein can sign-off. despite all this, almost zero attention other than the work of nick on this
issue. so i want to congratulate neck but also urged you to look into this to find out what this is about. the late ted jones one of the tight ends and among the first generation used to frequently lamented the lack of interest on the part of black america on the african continent. wofford there and the last month for the last year of malcolm x life and he made is principal point that the struggle of african american within the borders of the united states would not be addressed and less elevated to international human-rights and this would be achieved in through alignment with the struggle
on the african continent. martin luther king at the end of his life also advocating similar programs. with that in mind again i urge you to discover this book and follow-up on what is happening. 170 million per day? but you cannot get clean water in flint? or funding for public schools? tuition relief but $12 million per day for the fight with isis into libya? okay. congratulations to neck. [applause] for his extraordinary work with that in mind i would like to introduce our founder of the before columbus foundation. [applause]
the office. and runs the best jazz program in the united states at the university of davis california. and our host is the second poet laureate in the beautiful $40 million building which is the center of west coast jazz. likely armstrong has of matter-of-fact we had a fund-raising party in pacific heights where you could look out over the bay to see alcatraz and but of the great patrons of jazz was incarcerated at alcatraz.
al capone who brought louis armstrong up. thirty-eight board members have made the news recently recently, a great writer who is been with us for decades presented with a presidential medal and even though he is not a review in the new york times book review, they spend more hours having dinner parties. but the president said he would read his books we have a very hip president and i think we will miss him. the best since kennedy i think in the whitehouse.
because the hamptons kennedy said this is the party. we have an organization that "the new york times" calls us all the working class over here will have an awards ceremony december december 2nd, december 3 r d in oakland and the recipients wilson received the award made for the late poet and civic leader. and the judge declared stop and frisk unconstitutional. and mayor bloomberg and the
commissioner stop and frisk received a lot of danger but they apologized to her because of the crime were 1. they would stop a hundred thousand hispanics or blacks . so they just apologized. >> we published that in our magazine. but now when i was 14 years old received an award coming in third in a speaking contest. and my wife just wrote a great book about it about to student architects in the
turn of 1900. but my prize was a key upon to buy a book. i bought a book about stalin [laughter] and is scared me to death. and with all of these weird characters like head of the chief of the secret police and stalin was a thug and in jail. [laughter] and he was served by a scary head of the government and they were lionized by historians and if somebody else they have problems. because those mandates were official. the only difference between
those in and clean up the reputation like alexander hamilton and the indian movers like jackson is their creations were never made into musicals. [laughter] the promise of of musical hamilton is that he was an abolitionist and a progressive. this was the abolitionist to accuse the british from stealing the negro's from is owners. hugh lefty smoking gun and on behalf of his sister-in-law he deducted $225 from the account for the purchase for the purchase of a negro woman
and child. this was a transaction whether they are groupie historians as the founder politician he is book, he was also a monarchist and test. and those whose poor jackets their attitudes prevail and not until i left it as a learned of presence of the 5,000 black troops during the revolutionary war. been noticing the omission
of blacks were the musical takes place one of these exponents of what is called founder's sheik and it was the basis of the musical hamilton. he just had a weird moment she writes others, including the president of first lady like to the musical because of the history of harvard. [laughter] she writes others describe the cast as obama as america and the musical is now in
contrast and is misleading to race of presence and the role of black people in revolutionary america before and since. i am quoting her. america and then did look-alike if you like outside the halls of government. this is deborah been a white nation. the irish you know, john adams that they praise like of miniseries on pbs he would complain about the irish and the blacks in boston. because of the boston massacre. the new whites they were the irish how they became white.
to say they were irish but they left chicago. but up here at the peloria to tear the place up. [laughter] as a matter of fact joe williamses since the 1850's like brazil and the idea that to was representing newcomers to the country as a result and the return is puerto rican prime buddies african actors fights in the same revolutionary war and also for the enslaved people
and more likely for the great white men in the air in the united states and it was excluded from the freedoms. >> my second but over this historical live negative hamilton is the hottest of the fund filed way. and the tricornered half and tried to do that of the revolutionary greats been one and for many critics to have a sexually historical effort these are the words
to leave that alone. as the academic his piers i can say emphatically l. lord 29 stay. yeltsin may be a delight to watch prado convince ourselves that discipline and history. we interviewed of the show host i did not have to read of bible because i saw "jesus christ superstar" laugh laugh that says it all. the musical hamilton come where charlton heston is in the movie, you get the picture. but that was created by the urban blacks to honor the oppressive slaves. incredible i also mention to
dress up like killer but people like that we don't think in those terms but before columbus foundation of which more americans get their information, and a central curriculum i am amazed at how different. >> the combination which covers up the issue aussies to produce generation after generation who don't see there never can and the next president brought to us by television with free
publicity. watching wall-to-wall coverage of his speeches and even win secretary clinton would'' them but the fact the rockefeller foundation provides school children with three tickets to a musical to honor the slave trade, a lot of people will not like this but while they're writing musical about the guy held captive 30 years? hamilton sold people and women and they say it is because he was smart. so castro was smart so that is the analogy i would give. it isn't surprising that
david duke, the kkk klan leader was a history major. we honor nancy eisenberg eisenberg, and also michele from the university at albany to challenge other historians who portrayed hamilton in a rags to riches manner. the day of academic cowardice and they never asked retaliation because they demand history be honest but the biggest glass ceiling could be shattered when on november 8 when these braves dollars shall break the glass ceiling that is being broken elsewhere. [applause]
>> it is such an honor to be here and they do feel much like a freeloader reid have written books and being honored for a lifetime of work and spending 80 years dona book and i wrote an article but at the same time man know my recognition is because of the timeliness of my critique. my article was entitled race coulter it appeared in the academic journals at the time when everyone from theater critics to president obama were lavishing praise on the musical and all of
the creator. however my own immediate reaction was that for all of the brilliance of the rioting and performance imperfection there was something seriously disturbing happening on stage when i look for a reflection among other reviews and articles written a was not entirely surprised to find wall-to-wall approval of almost every aspect. because of this seven extremely believed to find the fabulous subtitle black actors dress up as slave traders and it is not halloween. so the incisive critique that echoes my own concerns gave me the confidence to turn my own thoughts into a journal article. in areaway it came about in
part because of the founder of the american book awards. thank you i also need to thank my editors for accepting my unconventional review essay. also my husband, sister, and my colleagues for discussing the play with me or getting my drafts. also the committee for the american book award to validate the importance to critically interrogate the stories of popular culture talks about past and was not trained as a historian but archaeologist and dance -- and in my job right teach but died this not
necessarily the political the one that could be applied to any other cultural product. we should ask what aspect is being invoked and why? to what the end? what do they imply about who matters in the present? in other words, what does this use of the past suggest about who has a right to power in the present? because either justifying the position is the most important function of history in the public's fear. -- spier not only the historical accuracy but the
politics of but show that is as popular to have an impact on how we perceive ourselves and each other. disconcerting some eight people are excited about the way that it makes history accessible but to be frank i don't want stories that glorify the founding fathers want them to be dull and stodgy as they are. i sure as hell don't want them to be made interesting even exciting with of black artists who portrayed them as rappers black washing history to make it seem cool. i am also bothered by the rhetoric surrounding of musical to say in the play is generous to allow them to identify with the history they're not technically entitled to on some level because there ancestors were
not a part of it. the whole idea of a musical being and as the tag line put it this story of america then told by american and now. but i argue in my original article but america then did look like the people in this play. in your city had 14 percent black during the revolutionary era and there were slaves in your the every household. so every scene of the play contingent and opportunity to president also the room where it happened where they say that thomas jefferson james madison and hamilton were alone and things that no one else in that room but that is completely erasing who would have been in that room serving dinner. some believe the musical and by its the role of those
black soldiers fighting in the revolutionary war including a man enslaved by one of the characters and performed some of the ax to supply -- spite collins of british not to mention that alexander hamilton was described as a work of genius was built on the of bodies is easy to master is not passing go black but it has reinforced the idea only white men have far rightful claim to the history of the united states and everybody else came on the scene later. every journalist to has interviewed about hamilton asks what i would do differently. my answer rarely makes it
into the final piece of plywood like to make it clear. i would change everything. if they ask for my opinion when he started to write the show i would not have suggested that he tries to address. >> and teddy different store that had some of projective us that our liberal white supremacist and a male chauvinist. perhaps he could have told the story and then to be resold to the end of boston massacre and to present a more schramm.
>> these of the that talent in the genius could have been applied in a sincerely hope you will in the future and return to the firm of the musical in the height of the working-class latino immigrants. in inclosing a lake to reiterate my award for criticism and add a personal motive cannot commit a better time in my life. when i learned a had received of this award was in the midst of dealing with a serious illness about
writing populism for political culture and if think that for his thank you [applause] >> before welcoming john up to the stage i want to say if you words about matt johnson and his novel, which he was unable to join us this afternoon to except the award and specifically said the great meaning is that this came from his peers but
the philosopher once said the most treacherous and difficult issues in life can only be discussed in terms of jokes and if that is true then matt johnson is very serious. but a black one of the most terrorizing experiences in the company of all whites you thank you are one of them as they embark on the discussion is an ugly business but eventually you realize this will happen dozens of times. so negative ago little bit older you realize it is
unjust regarded to be privy to those of conversations but also enhance the furor subject with a projection. so matt johnson in this we mean and very funny description and treacherous love brent but she believes this is actually what killed him. with his inability to deal with that. but very quickly you have
all heard to keep them laughing. if you want to become with fail flying crier and a vivacious and hilarious novel with a brilliant take on race relations within the so-called races of america and with that said but deeply embedded i that they could join us this afternoon to except the award for his collection of short stories and counter near desperate co he said before and writing that i believe john keane can be thought of as a
>> thank you so much justin are those beautiful remarks. congratulations to all of my fellow honorees. it is an extraordinary honor to be in your company and of course in the company of all of the people who have received this reward for us. thanks so much for columbus foundation, to the board for this extraordinary award. it is hard almost to put in words he even someone who writes poetry, fiction essays
everything just to express how moved i was to learn that i receive this award. it sort of took the words away so i will say a little bit more in a minute. i would also like to thank my publishing corporation; editor for taking the chance on this book. sometimes of course when we see books in the world we imagine and i have actually had people say this, it must have been easy to get that book into print. this was a book that actually received a discover so i'm grateful that midwest publishing and thanks to my agent who was a part of that process. thank you to all of my colleagues and my students and to my fellow writers some of whom are here today for their support as i was writing this book. writing is a solitary, often a
solitary pursuit but as we have heard again and again from people who have gotten up here and spoke in it is also a collaborative effort. we don't write in isolation but we are always in conversation and communication with those around us. the people around us help make and ring literature into life. thanks to my parents including my late father and my mother both of whom encouraged me from childhood in my various artistic pursuits and above all thanks to my partner chris outland who was here who has been there with me all along the journey from not just this book's conception but every book's conception through its completion and periodically would ask me if i finish the story about the hot air balloons one of the best writing prompts of all. always asking you to do finish the story about the hot air balloons?
you have to finish the story about the hot air balloons. that's one of my favorite stories in the book. since its inception in 1976, 40 years, a really impressive anniversary and in 10 years it will be 50 years and we will be able to celebrate that. before columbus foundation i promoted multicultural literature which is to say a champion and a firm literature that reflects the richness and diversity of society and i think sometimes away to think of diversity we think of multiculturalism. we think about it in the soft and easy terms but i always think of the poet and the critic and essayist elizabeth alexander who talked about the hard multi-cores -- multiculturalism the richness of diversity this often attested -- antagonistic that requires and reflects the struggles that we go through and i think this is one of the
things that the columbus foundation is making clear but as we have heard many times today this essential to the work that it does. a reflects the richness and diversity in society and shows us a way forward to our common future which is crucial. as our current election season reminds all of us yet again i just want to say tv to reflect on this election season. when i go live people say this is the greatest election we have ever lived there and i think you know i have lived through six or seven crazy elections, you know. i mean and of course oh my god the emergence of this horrible racist white supremacist and unlike when did it ever leave? it's always been here, people come on you know. this candidate is not the first one to other ratios -- racist
things. we still have a ways to go and literature, literature, again literature all the things we have in the world but literature poetry fiction drama created critical nonfiction critical nonfiction which represents talk about today hybrid and cross genre writing and forms that we have been conceptualized all assistance of significant power that we should never fail to acknowledge to shape our way to a better future for all of us. we were talking about storytelling. stories are so powerful. they are not simply things that are frivolous that have no value they carry no weight in the
world. they shape how we think about the world. this is what he was telling us the stories about the past and the stories about the present. let me be clear literature alone cannot dispel the fear and anger in the hate and distrust out there. it cannot by itself healed the histories comment differing but not income inserts that we have all that and it cannot transform its overnight into kinder people and make us love one another. lead us on the path of goodness and righteousness in and get it can often does help us to understand each other and ourselves. it can and often does place us in the minds and bodies of other people, very different from us and help us even more fully, more clearly and more empathetically. but literature can shine life not dishonor individual cells
that are collective experience in how they are similar different inner structures in a by which we live and how they can or liberate us. literature can show us how we can transform this world, our world for the better. literature often plants a seed or seeds for the future. i love the comment about reading african-american literature and it inspired you. sometimes it may not seem to have any direct relation to us. it can empower us in ways we don't fully understand this is wide literature is so important. literature can show us how we can transform the world for the better. the great poet has said it will get better. literature has always played and will keep playing a key part in
making this happen. this seems parallel is before columbus foundation's founders ishmael reid who is with us here today and whom i want to thank in particular for having been a wonderful visionary teacher for so many others and me and for having helped set me at a crucial time in my life on the path that i'm on. he is really one of not just's remarkable writers activists and people but really an extraordinary teacher. he's one of the best teachers i've ever had and i thank god everyday that i had you as a teacher. particularly at the critical time. ishmael's work like that of my fellow honorees and past recipients of the award embody the freedom and dreams of our ancestors. ishmael has produced expansive
literature of social engagement and justice social enco political consciousness and conscience over systems, revision income and recent drink and reconstruction. where we shy away from the often critical conversations we must participate in celeste to create an experience with new inclusive possibilities for society in the world than he did that today. you don't shy away from the world we are living in no matter what it is. it's really. powerful and inspiring and really one of the things that i carry with me always that led me to write this book. for that reason i consider this award not just the highest honor i could receive the tribute to my former teacher. thank you ishmael and thank you for forming the columbus foundation. [applause]
>> thank you, john. one of the distinguishing characteristics of american literature and african-american literature in particular is that it emerges from a period and which our literacy was punishable by death and this law of capitol capital punishment for literacy was taken so seriously that even the person who is teaching the person was also killed. now did that ever really stop? what is the contemporary emanation of that law? was there a point when it completely evaporated? most certainly not. but it has sculpted and shaped the literature itself, this
relationship with the word, with the literate word. now, our next honoree william maxwell who did the excavation, who did the homework, who did the difficult job that many of us had intuited the programs of counterintelligence focused on black writers had have sought to not only negates their expression but also to lead to extraordinary levels of self-censorship so when you see this period of american history in which african-american writing is emerging from a period and which was punishable by death then you see coming into the 20th century we will begin with the red summer.
1919, claude mckay and the poem if we must die which alerted the u.s. government to what they described reading in the roots of congress as a new attitude among our. now, the intensity of that focus led to over a century which i believe i am sure continues to this day in terms of that kind of counterintelligence activity. most because the scope of the writers that are engaged in this book fbi how jake or hoover's ghost writer framed african-american literature the scope of these writers is one that actually describes the entire trajectory towards freedom. what i mean by that is that we all know that all over the world
throughout the planet that african-american art and music has inspired liberation struggles globally all over the world. so it is contained within this literature and that is why the fbi took so much assiduous care in analyzing it in disrupting it in destabilizing it and eventually along the way with some sort of version of literary black face writing it themselves. it's a shame that this book is not received more attention here in the united states but i suspect that part of that lack of critical reception has to do with not only that these programs continue to go on but this dark mirror image of what is taking place in terms of surveillance of artists and
writers and intellectuals taking place now. one of the revelations that arise out of book was that at one time several dozen black american writers including ishmael were on a list of those to be arrested in a national emergency. he was going to put you all in prison right away. i'm sure that was still exists today and it had the writers who were talked about with that in this extraordinary book had been black mountain folks new york school folks, you never would have heard the end of it but it's not. so that is the difficulty that we are all going to have to face. i urge you to do the hard work and to honor the example and to find a new way to read this book it is a great pleasure to introduce you to william j.
maxwell who did as i say the hard work, the very difficult work of dealing with the bureaucratic apparatus that keeps most of the information hidden. he excavated it. bill maxwell is a great pleasure to bring you the award. [applause] >> so i'm beginning to think i'm in a hotbed of leftist here. [laughter] it's just a bit terrifying that it feels like coming up. i'm an english professor which means if i stand before one of these things that deliver long boring lectures but i won't do that today. i'm just going to thank people. i want to thank of course the columbus foundation for helping me with this book in many ways. this gentleman here an ideal read in one of the subjects of the book which was a fantastic
blessing. i've heard from a lot of contemporary african-american writers and one thing i would like to praise columbus is one way in which it breaks down segregated walls in one play it takes seriously critical and historical writing as writing. i'm tremendously honored by that and i'd also like to thank my publisher princeton university press which actually thought it could sell an academic book. so it sold a few copies and now i'm here speaking with you. i sat down and wrote a book which academics do occasionally. okay so here are a few people i would like to thank. i will not give you a lecture. i would like to thank a family. that's a shock that i would like to think julz my partner and my wife. i would like to thank my kids bics named after pics beiderbecke and i hope he leaves the u.s. too.
[laughter] i would like to thank my sister stephanie and carolyn peck like to thank a parents who were working-class kids make good through the book, do the words and all that they gave me and i wish they were here today. so thank you to my family and my family teaches me that every time out, every time out life trumps art. i use that word, trump. i would like also to thank the freedom of information act, okay which is one of the sometimes underemphasized successes of the 1960s of this country and achievement of the american left that is still bearing fruit that's an important tool of our democracy. let's have a hand for the freedom of information act. [applause] about which this book would be impossible. i would actually like to thank
some of the employees of the fbi , the people who process these requests, who work with some diligence many of whom are people of color actually. i don't want to thank james comey in any way, shape or form but you should ride we figure if you are working on a serious cultural history they are easier to come by than you might think. they are often disturbing. there are evidence of crimes that are surprisingly insightful documents. turns out police are good readers in certain ways. i would like to thank the african-american writers in the look some of whom are here today. thank you ishmael reid for giving me a life, for saving my life in various ways and i take that quite seriously and for giving us an example for something that we are all going to have to live with the 21st century which is how to live a
surveillance with grace and creativity. the fbi broke people but also strangely enough inspired a lot of very fine black writers who have been dealing with this scourge that we all now have in our pockets. and again i would just like to thank you all and i'm honored to be here. [applause] >> how is everybody doing? hanging in there? is so wonderful to hear all these wonderful voices speaking out. i want to echo all the accolades that ishmael reid has received and he deserves much more. if not for ishmael reid we wouldn't have established the critics award and we all realize
what a visionary he is. ray young bear is a lifetime resident at the meskwaki settlement in central iowa. his poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies and collected into three books. the recipient of a grant from the national endowment for the arts ray young bear has taught creative writing and native american literature and numerous schools across the united states including the university of iowa and the institute of american indian arts. we are sad that he wasn't able to join us today. of his work sherman alexi says i am not exaggerating when i tell you that ray young bear is the best poet in the indian country and in the top 46 in the whole dang world. sacred and profound, profound
and irreverent his poetry pushes you into a corner wraps you up a bit and maybe takes your wallet and gives you a long kiss goodbye. that is alexi ra. manifestation wolverine is the collected poetry of ray young bear the definitive collection from a groundbreaking native american poet who traces the fault lines between past and present, real and surreal comedy and tragedy to unveil that transcended new vision of the world hailed by blueberry review foremost contemporary native american poet. ray young berger us a meskwaki tradition of popular culture to create poems that provoke and heal. it's an indispensable volume which i'm really looking forward to reading. especially now with the standoff
at standing rock. we really need to support our brothers and sisters out there in that long struggle because they will stand their ground. i am personally very afraid for what's going to happen because pipeline people are just as determined to prophet from that land, stolen grounds. so again i'm so happy to know that ray young bear will be getting this award. the next award is for the book the american slave coast a history of the slave trading industry. it seems to be the theme today looking back at the slave past hamilton etc..
the author of cuba and its music the world that made new orleans and the year before the flood. constance has published -- publishes as constance ash. she has three novels. unfortunately they were also not able to join us today. if the book counterpunch says ned and concepts have some brought -- provided the world with one of the best written and as states nominally about the slavery industry in the u.s. south. american slave coast is actually a sweeping in-depth survey of the nation known as the united states. here today if our honor to have roxanne dunbar-ortiz speak on their behalf. [applause]
i will read their acceptance. they wish to thank justin simone of course and the columbus foundation. saying we salute the foundation on the longevity of the american book award whose roster of recipients over the years takes on a historical perspective all its own and in this big deficits place we are now thrilled to reside. i also share that sentiment. i was an award the last year of the american book award so i am very happy to be here again. the sub bullets continue perhaps because of the stimulating name before columbus and because the american slave coast to squarely in the genre of american history
that is unusual today. this solid editorial support has allowed us to create large historical structures which go against the grain of the publishing industry and focus on short books and more narrow topics. our book is 265,000 words and ways 3000 pounds in hardback. at first we were apologetic, but in new orleans, a woman said to us, it takes a book that big to tell our story. they continued, the american slave post is a history of the united states. it takes into account something that everyone in slavery days understood, the workings of the sleeve breeding industry which was in unique creation of anglo-american entrepreneurship and which was central to american politics and economics
as long as it existed. all of american history looks different once the slave reading industry is taking into account and include the annexation of texas and california are inexpressible without reference to it. this is a history of the slave reading industry which we defined as a complex of businesses and individuals in the u.s. who profited from the enslavement of african-american children at birth. at the heart of our account is the intricate connection of the legal fact of people as property that is the shadowed principal and national expansion. our narrative doubles then as the history of the making of the united states is seen from the point of view of the domestic slave trade.
it also traces the history of money in america. in the southern u.s., slavery was associated with its own economy, interconnected with that of the north. one of the two principal products of the antebellum slave a economy was crops which provided the cash flow, cotton, which was the major export. the other, i remember them talking about products and money. the other was enslaved people who, that's capital capital and functioned as a stable wealth of the south. african-american bodies and childbearing potential collateralized massive amounts of credit, the use of which made slaveowners the wealthiest people in the country. when the southern states form
the confederacy, they partitioned off and declared independence for their economic system in which people were money. the conflict between north and south is a fundamental trope of american his history, but in in our narrative, the major conflict is interest southern. the commercial antagonism between virginia, the great slave county and state and south carolina, the great slave importer. for control of the market that provided it. the power struggle between the two was central to the convention in philadelphia in 1787 into succession in 1861. what has prevented our presence today is associated with this weekend's performance at new york city symptoms symphony space of the american slave post
live, to our reading of the book with multiple voices and alive score. for two hours, a theater full of people listen and responded to historical discourse. it was cathartic and we hope to present it in other cities. at the top of the shows fire, we proudly set a banner, american book award winner. so many people have congratulated us on the award and our publishers are very happy. we send to profound thank you and we feel dumb for not being there to celebrate there with you today. thank you, and that is the end of their statement. i want to say congratulations to all of the awardees today. it's been been a wonderful
afternoon listening. thank you. [applause] we are getting there. in the autumn of 2015 a student california state university in sacramento challenge the mischaracterization in distortion of the history of the so-called new world as taught by one of her professors. the veracity of her arguments were backed by the voluminous documentation provided over decades by credited historians
from throughout the west. documentation that she offered in distinction to the bias she understood as dismissive of genocide in the americas and slavery in the year up and after. she understood her culture and what was at stake and not defending it. she chose the path of integrity and great honor. her professor disenrolled her from the classroom. there were filings of complaints to the university guard garnering national and international attention. her acts of courage and challenging the backwardness of the california state university status quo on the question of genocide and slavery, eventually led to the establishment of a new faculty and new curriculum at the university. more than this, ms. johnson's example has nourished the hopes of countless others am brings healing to the wounds of two long neglected and violently suppressed history.
we honor ms. johnson's bravery, for example, example, and above all her intellectual integrity with the inauguration of our first andrew hope award named for our long-term board member, poet educator, activists. ms. johnson receives the andrew hope award. [applause] >> hello everyone unfortunately my sister could not make it today, but i am her younger sister.
[inaudible] [speaking in native [speaking in native tongue] i will read the first section of my sister speech >> i would first like to start by saying thank you, thank you to every hard-working individual who made this event possible and thank you to the kind and brilliant people at the before columbus foundation for choosing to recognize me here today. it is nothing short of an absolute honor to be here, even if only in spirit and thought. i am both incredibly thankful and humbled to be among such amazing, inspiring, hard-working individuals. i am quite honestly unsure what to say in the face of so many brilliant people so i will keep it as honest and simple as i can. i am just a girl who wants to do the right thing.
my people and my parents taught me that we have always been responsible for more than just ourselves. we come from a land with a deep history and an ancient sacred circle. we are responsible for recognizing we come from much larger than's from ourselves. my parents taught me to always tell the truth about the hurt done on our people. they understood the heartbreak and the power of history so they told me gradually, piece by by piece, stories of our family survival until i was old enough to hold the weight of the truth. every year in elementary school, we celebrated columbus day without any mention of violence or domination. we celebrated thanksgiving with crafts and turkey cutouts in indian feathers and headbands. in fourth grade it was mandated that we all visit a california mission and fashion a 3-d model after learning about its history
in middle school we learned the updated version of the same tracks we followed us elementaries students and it wasn't until high school that our lesson plan contained any truths about the violence that happened between the native land the native people. it was my parents, not teachers who taught me about the truth of columbus. my parents are the ones who taught me out the aftermath of those first thanksgivings. it was my parents who held my hand when we visited the mission and warned me about the evils that took place inside those walls. it was my parents who taught me the truth about the united states and it was may parents who made me unafraid to speak the truth. >> my name is martina johnson [speaking in native tongue] i am
navajo. i am from arizona from the navajo reservation. my husband is from northern california. we have two girls and she is pursuing a degree in theater and english, and right now she has a part in a play at the capitol theater in sacramento so she could not be here today. i will read the part where she, this is a poem she wrote about her experiences >> with my professor at sacramento state university said genocide is not what happened to native americans, genocide implies a purposeful dissemination, most natives were wiped out by diseases. it was not genocide silence was not an option.
genocide is more than bloodshed, it is, in present-day, denial of the truth, repression of those, the denial of truth and repression of those who fought for it. genocide is undoubtedly the fight that is taking place right now at sacred stone camp in north dakota. genocide is the reason natives have been fighting for the right to exist for the past 500 years. it is the reason we exist in visibly, but also the reason we live so resiliently, because we survive, we laugh, we love and we listen. though we are outnumbered, we are are far from being a defeated people.
as long as we are here, there will always be warriors who will take a stand for what is right and true. there are millions of blank spaces in the places where the faces of our people should be. there are billions of blank spaces in the earth where a tree once stood, a river once flowed and the green of the earth saying a sweet song song. we look to the land and so many are gone. we look to what survived and hope is alive. we look to the sky, say a prayer and hello because they are not here but there and we are not here but they are in the sky, writing dreams with a memory, singing life back into the spaces we lost. we are resilient, we are hopeful and we are alive.
as first people, as first nations people, we neither had nor needed a constitution or bill of rights. we already had the element in our cultures by which to treat our people, our children, our our women and our elders. we have great paid a staggering price for a 1924 citizenship and are 1924 right to vote which no other americans will ever have. with the staggering price that we have paid comes the reaffirmation that the ideals that drive our people forward, whether in the past or now are based on truth. speaking up against the denial of native genocide that this nation built its foundation upon was not and is not in attack on the united states. the united states of america is my country.
the united states of america is your country. the united states of america is our country. speaking up does not attack or diminish the united states. she spoke up a year before. the strategies and tactics being used against american citizens are adaptations of what russia is doing against its related peoples of georgia and ukraine. the beatings of elder and women, the use of plain clothed infiltrators and instigators, the use of military indications, equipment to deny the ongoing human and civil rights violations. the seizure of land and continuing persecution of unarmed citizens are grueling chapters in the greater story. speaking up is speaking the truth.
defending the truth that the united states must reconcile to avoid the trash heap of history. speaking up was and is having faith in all americans to have the intellectual and moral strength to deal with the truth, heal from the truth, learned from the truth and become stronger american people. thank you for the award. [applause] >> before concluding this afternoon's award ceremonies and bringing up and welcoming our fellow board member who will be
accepting the lifetime achievement award for luis meriwether, i just want to make a couple short announcements. first, for those of you here to receive the award, before we leave, if you could all gather on the stage, we would like to invite tennessee read to take a few photographs. also, i really implore everyone here to join us around the corner for our reception, celebrating our winners this afternoon. it's very close by, just around the corner >> i don't have the address in front of me, but i can tell you it's about a three minute walk. they will definitely be a guide group heading over there. again, in all seriousness, the before columbus foundation
operates on a shoestring budget and every once in a while that shoestring stamps and i don't want to see that and i know you don't want to see that. at the beginning of the program, i had mentioned a number of different things that we are cultivating in our relationships with our partners at the san francisco public library in the oakland book festival, but i would also urge all of you to contribute to sustaining the before columbus foundation. as a matter of fact, i brought receipts so you can write it off on your taxes. i have a folder of them here so you can come see me here or at the jazz center or around the corner when we gather at the reception. again, we are very happy that margaret porter troupe could make the trip across country to join us this afternoon to accept the lifetime achievement award for luis meriwether, and i will
say just a few words of introduction for those of you who are not familiar with her work, you you are in for some big beautiful surprises. within the arkin panorama of american literal literature, she she holds a unique and hallowed position, many positions actually. as a pioneer of women's letters and a pioneer of african-american art, she staked out new territories, uncharted, untaken down in words, but not entirely unknown to the inter-lives of of black women, their sisters, husbands, brothers, sons and daughters, old old and young. the emotional complexity of her characters revealing the agility of her own imagination and intelligence discloses a consistent empathy to hold her people close. despite whatever contradictions may exist, despite the terrors and terminal engine turmoil, there is always, at come at the
center, a deep and abiding sense of their own shared humanity. it is this immense quality of dignity, of trust, of belief in humans. that we honor and bestow on the book award for life time achievement and with that please welcome to the stage margaret porter troupe. [applause] >> thank you >> good evening, good afternoon, it is it is my pleasure to be here today. i am a relatively new member of the board and i am very proud privilege to be able to serve in a very small way as a member of the board of before columbus foundation. thank you ishmael reed for asking me to join the board, thank you for your support, and
thank you for the great legacy that you have left, that you leave for us, the model that you present for me personally as someone who is committed, as a wonderful writer, but also as an activist. that is the same way that i feel about luis meriwether who spent her entire life, not only as a writer, a creative writer but also has an activist and committed to human rights and committed to helping to lead the world and leave you a better place than she found it. luis meriwether and i have known each other perhaps 40 years, but only now my really beginning to get to know her, both as a writer and as a human being. she enjoyed her 93rd birthday on may 8 this year. my birthday is may 9 so we are sisters and twins in a way, sharing almost the same birthday. i feel privileged to have met
her and to know her and to know her unrelenting energy. she is finishing her fourth novel, she has just finished the fourth draft of it and she also is the most up-to-date person i know on contemporary movies, film, and she knows and goes to see every film every day. she is extraordinarily active and beautiful. the manhattan borough president just declared may 8, 2016 luis meriwether celebration day memorializing her contribution to the arts as well as too civil rights and human rights, etc. on her on her behalf, i am so
privileged to accept this award. she sends her thanks and her gratitude. thank you all for having me. [applause] >> so once more, i will point out, if you walk down to this corner here and then you walk up this way, you got the address, just, just right around the corner. thank you steve. you will be seeing some of us walking there. i'm going with them. >> 398 hayes. it's about a three minute walk. so if we could have the winners ishmael, do do you want to come
up? do you want to say something about joyce? >> joyce carol thomas was one of our long term members of the before columbus foundation. she began her life picking cotton, like this old 19th century stuff, in the cotton fields and was the fifth member, she had a big family, nine children and she worked her way out of the cotton fields through literacy and she began writing books. her hispanic coworkers, david
murray said black people (fields [inaudible] she received from the university, what i wanted to say to her fellow hispanic workers who taught her spanish so she received in spanish at san jose university. her most famous book is called marked by fire, and she has received a national book award and wrote a number of children's books and i was a contributor to her book about brown versus board of education, the decision that came down ending school segregation.
she was very valued member of our organization and lived a long and productive life and produced a number of books. we are really going to miss her. we have lost three members of our organization since it's inception. we mentioned andrew hope who was a very valued member i wrote a novel [inaudible] this, needed with my wife and i being admitted to the tribe because of callahan. and george carol thomas. we have lost members and we are
admitting new members. i also wanted to mention that our president who wrote the first major american play which began in my classroom at the university of california berkeley with 20 pages, when he graduated they said were not finished with you. he said i don't know anything about [inaudible] he is the president of the organization, and now he is a regular at huffington post and he just did a piece on islam for huffington post. we have a very good group. we will miss joyce and we will
be sure to protect her, or preserve her legacy. [applause] >> before we depart for the reception, i just want to thank everyone for being so generous to bring yourself to the space and celebration of the american book award. thank you for sharing your time with us this afternoon. for the winners of the award, if if you could please join me on stage, tennessee reed would like to take some photographs with you.